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Dave ST

IC: S1:E2 "The Fast and the Furriest"

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It wasn't long before they were on the outskirts of the park and following the scent down Route 2.  They'd left the car far behind and Victor had already caught up, running like it was nothing while still smoking a cigar.  The sun had set but Rachel could smell it in the air, the Guardian of Savoy Mountain was close.  There were no street lights and soon Fisher took the lead, his eyes perfectly attuned to the darkness.

Soon the forest gave way to the Route they were looking for and they caught the first glimpse of the Guardian.  She moved swiftly through some trees, taking the back route to the large and very loud truck stop up ahead on the road.  Racks and Rhinestones lit up like a Christmas tree and the massive grey wolf hunkered down along the outskirts.  She smelled something they didn't, and she was poised to attack.  There had to be dozens of patrons in that place.  She'd rip through them all if she had to, and the Scions knew it.

"Aw, hell,"  Victor spat out his cigar.  "Not good."

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Grace frowned in thought, then shook her head at Nadya. "I don't know. He seems to know who we are, enough to have tracked us back to school and left that note. I think he'll notice if someone's missing. Besides, Salem seems horror movie enough that splitting up makes me pretty nervous." 

She looked the note over again and sighed. "I vote we just go. We should let the others, the other Bands, know what's going on, and Mr. Syracuse, of course, but I think we should meet up with this guy. Maybe he's cliched villain enough to need to give a monologue on his Evil Plans or something." She waved the letter in the air, "I mean, look at this. It's like he's auditioning to be our Joker or something."

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"Are you out of your mind, Cooper?"  Victor hissed.  "You just gave away our position!"

Like a bolt the nemean beast was off.  She darted through the tree line, past the truck stop and tore through the woods like she was water flowing among the bank of a river.  Before they knew it, she was upon them.  Victor raised his gun but Fisher pulled it down.  It retrospect he thought the large man might pummel him, but the beasts growl called all their attention to her.

She was massive.  Rachel and the others did quite understand her size until she stood right before them.  She wasn't the size of an SUV, she had the mass of a rhino and was easily over a ton in weight.  Fisher and Rachel heard wolves growl before, on television.  Hearing the Guardian growl seemed to vibrate their bones.  This wasn't some guy you could punch.  Monster you could intimidate.  This was an apex predator and everything about her broadcasted that she was designed for a singular purpose: to hunt and kill.

Even Victor swallowed hard.  Something you just respect in life, and nature's wrath apparently was high on his list.  She sniffed the air around them, then sniffed them.  "Help," she growled, narrowing her eyes at Rachel.  "How?"

"Naw, naw, naw..."  Victor shook his head.  "Nemeans don't talk."

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"Shut up Victor." Rachel held out her hand so the nemean could get her scent. "You know what we are. We know about your child we can help get her back. You have to let us help you , Honiahaka, you know we can't let you hurt those people. Belle wouldn't want that to happen and she wants you to be safe." She stands close to the wolf. "My name is Rachel. Let me help you."

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Victor shot her a look, but he couldn't get the shock of the talking wolf erased from his mind.  All in all he looked like an idiot.

"Belle,"  She growled and turned to face the truck stop.  "Nymph is in danger."

After a long pause she looked back to the Scions.  "Those aren't 'people'."

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That shocked Rachel she looked back at Victor. "Not. People." Her Jaw tightened. "Stay here Honiahaka  come when we call." She started walking toward the bar.

"Let's go guys

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"Ant men,"  She replied.  "Taken my child.  Lured me away from my home."

Victor cocked his shotgun.  "Myrmidons.  Ants turned into humans to be the perfect, obedient soldier.  Collective intellect, they work well as a team."

Honiahaka growled and snarled at Rachel.  "I do not take orders, meat."

"Hey!"  Victor stood between Rachel and the wolf.  "You want our help, then curb the 'tude.  These two have busted their collective ass to try and convince me not to kill you today.  You should be thanking them.  Now give us a moment to assess the situation down there before you go tearing things apart."  The Scion of War glared at the wolf, daring it to make a move.  His arms flexed and tightened and the two two youths could sense the tension in the air.  After a few moments of silence, Victor spoke.  "Good.  That's what I thought.  Let's go."

They were several steps away from the Guardian when Victor turned about one last time.  "And her name is Rachel.  Start using it."  He walked past Rachel and Fisher and raised a single finger to express his next point.  "Not.  A.  Word."

 

The parking lot was crowded.  Victor touched the bracer he ore on his wrist and his weapons all seemed to fade away.  They were there, but they just... weren't, anymore.  Hunters were standing all about the place with their big puffy vest coats and baseball caps.  There wasn't a single semi parked in the area and every vehicle was a truck of some kind or another.  Hunting rifles and pistols seemed common in the rear window of the trucks and at the side of the patrons.  In terms of sheer numbers, things were looking grim.

On the far side of the parking lot, was a trailer that had something in it that was concealed by a large tarp.  Several men stood around it, guarding it.

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Fisher frowned at seeing the odds. Comparing guns to his improved resilience? Well, the spartoi had given him a pounding with that shield. Guns could still probably harm him badly. And there were a lot of guns in this area. The trailer with tarp obviously looked like where you'd keep a nemean wolf pup. "We need a diversion to get most of them out of here. Then we could hit the trailer and get the pup out."

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Rachel nodded and walked up toward the Hunters, stopped a few yards away.

"So ants huh?" She asked

Victor shrugged "Pretty much."

"So Where can I find your queen?" She asked the hunters as she summoned Annbjorg and charged the nearest group.

 

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That was not a diversion. Well, it might have been - if not a good one - if Rachel hadn't drawn all the attention to them in her sudden appearance. Now she wanted to get stuck in the middle of myrmidons with guns. So now Fisher had to as well, rather than let his friend and Bandmate get riddled with lead. Fisher leaped in, Comb Tooth growing from the quill once more.

Another myrmidon found itself jerking away from a blade that cut through vests tacky and protection-less. "COMB TOOTH'S BITE!"

Oh good lord everyone. Fisher had officially descended into shonen nut mode.

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Victor squinted painfully at Fisher's declaration.  "Are you some kinda moron?"  He yelled.  Then, his body suddenly began to... bleed.  The blood seeped from underneath his skin like squeezing a sponge.  In flowed all around him covering him in a thick crimson glaze of impenetrable armor.  It hardened, but it didn't impair his movement it seemed.  Covered in red, his eye glowed a sickly blood shot red.  He didn't even seem like Victor anymore, he was consumed by the battle.  "I am the Scion of War!" He shouted, his voice sounded like it crackled like fire and wailed with the sounds of swords clanging and the screams of the dying.  He lifted one of the trucks, just, lifted it.  High above his head the truck sat perched until with one mighty roar he let it fly into a pack of myrmidons.  It crushed them at it rolled side over side, sending gore all over the parking lot.  "You will all bow, or be destroyed!"

[Rachel] The myrmidons reached for their side arms.  Rachel squeezed her prisoner tightly and swung about, flailing him into his partners.  The first one shot and the bullet went up high, the second one shot at her but his friends instead, saving Rachel from the bullet.  She felt him go limp as the life left his body.

[Rachel was missed both times.]

[Fisher] The young scion dodged to the left as one of the Myrmidons sliced at him with a ka-bar knife.  His weapon spun about him as he repositioned it for another volley.  The seconf Myrmidon pulled his side arm from it's holster and took aim, only to be crushed by the powerful jaws of a one ton wolf.  She raised it high in the air and swung it's body to and fro, breaking bones and showering blood across her furry muzzle.  With a jerk of her neck she released the body and it soared across the parking lot, sliding across the road and near the opposite end of the street.

[Fisher was missed both times.]

[There are several Myrmidons on the way, you each have two left to take care of.]

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Awed by Victors display Rachel gives in the her Aesir Battlelust spinning she hurls the body of the dead ant man into the two shooting at her. With a sickening thud the corps smashes into them knocking them head over heels.

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Fisher didn't even notice Victor's scorn. Too caught up in anime fixation, the coach had to decide, with what corner of his mind still left under the battle rage. Fisher slammed the blade of Comb Tooth into the ground, and in a display of acrobatics that should have been impossible, swung himself around like a gymnast on the rings.

His feet smashed into one myrmidon's head, then with another twist, hands still gripping the naginata's hilt, Fisher drove the other into the ground with a snap kick, then let go and landed on the ground in a deep crouch.

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*THOOMP*  The sound pierced the air and suddenly there was an explosion.  Honiahaka yelped in pain as she was throw completely off her feet and tossed back into several trucks, all of which buckled under her weight.  Steel crunched and plastic shattered as another *THOOMP* echoed across the battlefield.  The explosion lit up the vehicles and once again threw the ancient guardian into the air where she landed several feet away, bleeding and scorched.

"That's right y'bitch,"  A myrmidon walked from the the front of the truck stop, holding a grenade launcher in his grip.  "Ain't grenade proof are you, you mangy beast!  Take her down boys!  Shoot for the tender spots!  She ain't bulletproof on the inside!"

It was like the Scions weren't there.  The myrmidons had a singular mission and it didn't matter how many of them died fulfilling it.  Belle ran outside the establishment as people ran screaming through the back of the truck stop.  She laid a series of well placed slaps and punches on him, but he slammed her with the butt of the grenade launcher and buckled like she was lifeless.

Five myrmidons ran to the cage holding the pup, one climbed in the drivers seat of the truck it was latched to and tried turning the engine, the rest stood guard.

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Fisher glared and bared his teeth in an angry furor at the launcher-toting bastard. There was the mother wolf shooting, the collateral explosive damage, the risk to actual people, the fact that he'd brutally beaten Belle... and of course, he had four more grenades still left. Fisher charged him, thrusting Comb Tooth into the myrmidon's abdomen, but something in the ant-man's constitution kept him standing and going even when impaled in the gut.

"And you're not blade-proof, asshole!"
 

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Seeing Fisher and his sword stick tackling the head honcho and uber-Victor going all god of war on the rest of the ant men Rachel turns her attention to the Puppy Thieves. She reaches over to the nearest pick-up and putting a foot on the solid bumper grasps the tailgate and rips it from the truck. "Annbjorg the Ant men at the trailer stop them!" Then she throws the gate like a missile  at the cab of the truck and the Ant-man trying desperately to start it.

 Straight and true the gate flies and hits the door square. The sound of the impact is actually louder than the grenades had been. Steel, flesh and bone are torn asunder.

That truck isn't going anywhere.

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[Fisher] Myrmidons were created for a singular purpose: to be the perfect, obedient soldier.  This one that Fisher faced didn't fear death, we welcomed the opportunity to die a warrior in the service of his master.  He aimed the launcher at Fisher, preparing to proudly end them both.  At that moment Fisher twisted the blade in his gut and the still mortal myrmidon winched in pain and cried out, pulling the trigger and send a grenade from the launcher that struck wide to Fisher's left and into all the trucks and vehicles parked out in front of the truck stop.  The first one exploded like it was a Hollywood movie and the ones adjacent to it went up as well.  Heat was the first thing Fisher felt as the flames and intense draft seared into his flesh and scorched his skin.  It peeled and recoiled from the flame, but Fisher felt nothing.  Then came the concussive blast from the explosion itself and that Fisher felt as it scooped him up and slammed him onto the front of the building, a crater-like impact marked his stop as he fell to the ground atop Belle, shielding her from some of the explosion.

Checking to make sure Belle was safe he rose to his feet once he was certain.  She's be sore in the morning, but she'd live.  He rose to his feet to look for the myrmidon only to find him seared and burnt, broken and shattered from the explosion.  He caught his reflection in a piece of shattered glass, the fire and burned away his flesh all over one side of his face.  He looked like Two-Face from the Bat Man comic books.  His appearance shocked him as the thought of living with those sorts of scars consumed his mortal mind... but Fisher forgot that he wasn't completely mortal anymore, and slowly the flesh and muscle began to knit together before his eyes.  Dead, seared skin flaked away, his wounds healed and the remnants of the explosion flaked away like nothing but a bad memory.  Too bad it didn't do the same for his clothes... those were in tatters, but thankfully still keeping his modesty preserved.

[3 dice of damage, no successes.  Fisher remains unhurt, but he looked awesome doing it.]

[Rachel] Suddenly it registered to Rachel... she just tore off a tailgate like it was a brittle branch on a tree!  She didn't have time to dell on it too much before the explosion from Fisher's opposition lit up the parking lot.  The blast swept her off her feet and threw her into a truck, the door buckled from the impact and she felt like Supergirl being thrown through buildings... it seemed everything broke but her now.  With a wicked she stood up, shaking broken glass off her.  She felt blood tracing down her cheek and tickling her neck, but she felt no pain.  She looked at the myrmidons at the trailer and they all took aim at her, being the closest threat.  She gritted her teeth and hoped she hadn't hit her limit yet.  Bracing her knees she reached down and grabbed the truck.  It was heavy, so far it was outside her ability to lift, like Victor did, but she had other plans.  With a cry to any God listening she lifted the edge and the truck raised off the ground, tipping onto its side.  Gun fire tore through the early night air and all Rachel heard on the other end of her barricade was the *pling* sound bullets made when hitting metal.

*PING* was the sound the aluminum bat made as Rachel staggered forward.  She never saw him creep up from behind, but she was sorta glad he did... now she had someone to break.  Were she not a Scion, the blow would have killed her instantly.  "Don't know who the hell you are, bitch, but you're ruining everything!  You know how much we get for these  hides!  That thing killed my brother Jacob!  It's a monster!"

Rachel stood face to face with Derrick, the man who started all of this.

"To Hel's Halls with you!" Annbjorg soared over head, leaping off one of the, now wrecked, vehicles.  She loosed her spear while airborne and it ripped through the chest of one of the firing myrmidons, the impact was so great it speared him to the ground and he just hung there, suspended.  She landed and with a violent battle cry swung her shield like it was a blade at another of the myrmidons, but he swayed to the side, now that he was aware of her.  Her shield missed but it tore into the lock on the cage of the trailer in a shower of sparks.  As the Shield Maiden reached for her sword to continue the battle she paid no attention.  The came a second time and Rachel caught it, effortlessly, and looked to the cage while Fisher stepped slowly from the porch of the truck stop.  Despite the chaos of the battle they could see the cage door open slowly with a creak.  Beyond the darkness was a low growl, dim, reflective eyes, and a teeth.  Lots of teeth.

[No damage to Rachel, no one broke her DV.  Annbjorg killed one Myrmidon, there are 3 left at the truck.]

[Victor] ...was screaming obscenities and insulting the lineage of each of the Myrmidons he cut down.  His guns had reappeared and they didn't seem to ever run out of bullets... not that it surprised either of the young Scions.  In fact they were pretty sure he was going to celebrate all this carnage with a decent cigar, a decent beer and an indecent stripper.  He still looked inhuman, his divine body armor was making bullets literally bounce off him.  Although Rachel would probably never call him on it later, she noticed the way he'd positioned himself between the injured Guardian and the Myrmidons.  She wasn't sure how well that armor would stand up, but he was taking every bullet he could for her.  Somewhere under all that bravado and chauvinism there seemed to be a man with a heart.  That or, maybe he was a soldier protecting a fallen comrade.  "Get up."  He grumbled to the injured wolf.  "C'mon, get up.  Y'ain't dyin on my watch.  Limp, hobble... do something!"

Honiahaka tried, but she was in too much pain.  Her fur was blackened but she wasn't bleeding too much, the blast had cauterized much of the injuries.  She had a nasty impact wound from where the first grenade had torn into her and it left her insides exposed, the muscle tissue underneath her shoulder was torn and her left leg didn't seem to want to move, it just twitched in response to her commands.  Along the same side her ribs were exposed, the wound looked grievous...

Spoiler

They had fun following the giant wolfs trail for a few hours, but they gave up eventually and decided to call it a day.  They joked about it being a hoax, or some practical joke, but they still both wondered.  They had only stopped in for a couple of 'to go' burgers.  Darcy was about to run out of Billy's truck and say hi to Rachel and Fisher.  The two teens were completely shocked when they noticed their fellow classmates here in the middle of nowhere with the High School Coach, of all people.

Then, Rachel just bum rushed a guy and started a big old brawl, then Coach Fingers went all monster mode, then a giant wolf and grenades.... and throwing trucks like they were cardboard boxes!  By now the two, who had parked, thankfully, over by a neighboring business that had a gift shop so Darcy could look for a souvenir of the trip, were hiding behind Billy's truck in fear for their lives.

Their jaws dropped as Rachel to the tailgate from the truck and their eyes widened as she lifted it from the ground o make a barricade.  They watched in amazement as Fisher's wounds healed right before their eyes!

"Billy... what the hell is going on?"  Darcy whimpered, looking on from their vantage point.  "F-Fisher... grew a face.  He grew a face!"  She said, borderline hysterical.

"Shh," he quieted her.  Fearful that they might be spotted and forced into...whatever the hell was going on.  He was just as scared as she was, but he knew he had to be strong for them both.  "I don't know.  I don't know about giant wolves or warrior women appearing from nowhere... or why the Coach looks like he's... I... I just don't even.  But stay down.  If they see us, we're probably dead."

Quietly fearful, they watched on in both confusion and terror.

 

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Oddly, as his flesh and bone reknitted themselves together, Fisher found the twisted part death part life writ on his face less shocking then before. Oh, right, the Kojiki copy in the library had gone into the decay on his mom in the Izanagi-Yomi scene in gruesome detail. It hadn't stopped her from taking much more normal forms in his lifetime.

But the battle was almost over, he finally noted. The pup was about to leave its cage - which left the knot of remaining myrmidons. Darcy had the utter shock of Fisher walk forward too calmly for what he was doing. Which was decapitating one man with a that blade on a stick, not even stopping before it cut out the throat of another.

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Rachel looked into the eyes of this asshole as he tried to pull the bat from her grip. Her left hand shot out and grabbed him by the throat and she squeezed and lifted him and started walking toward Honiahaka . "This is all your fault you asshole. Time to join your brother!"

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The cage burst open and the pup flew out over Annbjorg's head as she dispatched the final myrmidon protecting it.  One might expect it to go to it's mother, but instead it soared across damaged vehicles and over wreckage until it landed next to Rachel.  It was a pup, maybe a month old... and it was the size of a St. Bernard.  Just an adorable puff ball of new born wolf fluff.  Rachel blushed at it's cuteness, one couldn't even be afraid of the little thing it was so adorable.  It's growl was strong, for it's size, but it's bark left a little to be desired.  "Yrar!"  Was all that came from it's fearsome jaws.  It was trying to be intimidating, protect it's mother from the man it recognized as it's captor, but the mood of the fierce battle quickly change pace from violent and bloody, to too darned cute.

Derrick struggled against Rachel's vice-like grip, he was even off the ground now so he couldn't run.  Without another 'word' the young wolf ran off to it's mothers, whimpering at the sight of her injured.  The pup nuzzled her mother's muzzle and the great beast opened her eye lazily.  None were keen at reading animal expressions, but joy had a universal appearance.  She was dirty and her fur seared, but she managed enough strength to lift her head and nuzzle her offspring in return.  Not quite understanding all that was going on, the pup dutifully began to groom her mother, trying to clean the blood and grime away from her eyes.  The Scions knew that she didn't have much longer.

 

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"War, darlin',"  Victor shook his head as the crimson armor soaked back into his skin.  "This ain't really my department."  There was a look on his face that betrayed his personality.  Now, as the mother lay dying, they could see compassion in his eyes.  It was the sappy 'someone's about to die' compassion, it was the strong compassion of saluting a soldier who had died defending something they cared for.  Victor, in these final moments, respected the great wolf and it showed in his tone.

Fisher helped Belle over.  She was limping and her face was badly bruised.  The burns on her leg would heal in time, but the tears in her eyes were the catalyst for a scar on her heart that would never heal.  "No," she knelt beside the massive beast she raised with her sisters.  "Honiahaka, you'll... be okay."

The great Guardian of Savoy Mountain turned her head to face Belle and a smile creased through her lips.  Her pup continued to clean her muzzle until it found that her ear needed to be nibbled on.  It was happy to be near its mother again, so much so it wanted to play and whimpered when she was unresponsive.  "You... are... kind... to... say... so...my... friend."

They watched as her last breath passed softly from her, powerless to stop nature when it was at its both cruelest and kindest moment.  Her pup nibbled a few moments more before it realized she wasn't playing back and hopped down off her to goad her into paying her some attention.  She prodded once and nothing.  She raised her paw and patted her on the muzzle and still nothing.  The whimpers began and all anyone could do was watch as the pup came to realize that it's mother wasn't going to wake up.  It looked back to everyone, whimpering for them to do something, but never had any of them felt so powerless.

Then to the clear night sky upon the fiery wreckage of the battlefield... the pup howled.

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Tears falling freely Rachel look straight into he captives eyes. "I want to kill you. But thats not my job." She lams him to the ground not hard enough to hurt him seriously but enough to knock the breath out. She flips him over and plants her knee in his back and taking his hand and the bat she Ties him with the aluminum bat in her best comic book imitation. "Someone better call the sheriff."

She goes over and kneels down next to the howling pup to hug and comfort it.

 

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[Back at school!]

Laurie offered a polite "Thank you," then pursed her lips thoughtfully as Grace passed her the letter, rubbing her thumb idly over the thick, creamy texture of the paper while she read the elegantly-penned missive. The language didn't quite match the stationery, or the penmanship; the latter smacked of either extremely good taste, or excessive pretension, neither of which typically fit the insultingly casual tone of the former. Lifting the folded piece of paper to her nose, she waved it momentarily back and forth and inhaled softly.

“Interesting,” she murmured, half-smiling. “The paper is really nice, much better than I'd expect from 'middle-class evil.' Cotton, I'd say. It feels like our stationery at home, so it might be Crane and Company. I think your villain... I can't believe I'm actually using that word in conversation!” The blonde laughed as she interrupted herself, shaking her head in disbelief. “Anyway, your villain may be reaching above his tax bracket in order to impress you, or-” She glanced at the other three teens speculatively. “Or, he's reaching below it, considering the tone. It's... also possible he's just out of his mind. The bit about the undead aside, no one actually says 'Tatty-bye' unless they're being facetious.” She shrugged, then blinked at Nadya and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, I mean I haven't heard anyone say that unless they're joking. Also, they keep herbs. Maybe they were writing in a kitchen, or, I don't know, some weird voodoo ritual lab, or something, but it smells delicious. A bit, hmm. Spicy.”

Aaand, of course, none of that is actually helpful. Right. You know, somehow, I thought fitting in would make me feel less weird. Shadowy voices and zombies. Crazy villains in museums. Super powers. Thanks, “dad.” I'm officially a character in a young adult novel.

Exhaling in a quiet huff, she handed the note back to Austin. “I think Grace's approach is the most sensible. Even if he intends to spring some sort of trap, it's a valuable opportunity to take advantage of his obvious narcissism and learn something useful about him, whoever he may be. Strength in numbers, and all that.”

 

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"Oh, you don't have to sell me on going.   I'm all for it.  We're smart enough to know this is a trap, and he might be insane enough to realize that and simply not care.  It makes me wonder what exactly he's got planned is all.  I would generally like to wait for the others to return, the whole aforementioned "strength in numbers", but I'm fine with all of us going to see about this as is.   Besides, that gives us some reinforcements, in the event we need them to handle whatever this lunatic has in mind.  Of course, that means we have to tell Mr. Syracuse, or at least leave a note with where we're going, so he can pass it on to the others."   He shrugged, or barring that, send Rachel  and Fisher a text to the same effect."

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"They're on a mountain, hours away," Laurie reminded Austin patiently.  "And probably busy with whatever Mr. Fingers has them doing. We have a very specific timetable for our appointment, so waiting doesn't seem to be an option. Besides," she shrugged and smiled again, waving a slim hand at the letter she'd just returned to him. "Punctuality is important."

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Victor moved the body.  With a simple though and the snap of her fingers, any mortal who hadn't been battling or was and and still alive, fell to the ground around their cars or wherever they'd been running to, suddenly to drunk to stay awake.  Didn't matter if they'd drank the beer or not, as a rest stop for the supernatural, the nymph had a certain mojo to keep people from recalling exactly what had happened.  By the time they woke up it would a freak bear attack and it caused a bad accident.  There were no bodies.  When the myrmidons died their carcasses dissolved into ants and they either crept away or lay there dead. Their clothes and possessions, however, did not.  It wasn't too big of an issue, it wasn't the first time Belle had to clean up some whacked out supernatural brawl in front of the place.  She wouldn't reiterate about the last one, but she punched Victor in the arm once it was brought up.

It wasn't long before things were almost back to normal.  Unfortunately Darcy and Billy had their own drinks in the car so they stayed conscious, but were too scared to try and move the vehicle until the coast looked clear.  They carefully watched as everyone did their best to clean up the scene.  It wasn't hard, there really wasn't any blood or viscera, just a lot of ants, and the body of a giant, slain wolf.  "Billy..." Darcy finally broke the silence in a hushed whisper.  "...I think we might be dealing with aliens.  This could be the vanguard of an invasion force."

"Devenne, I don't quite understand what just happened, but I highly doubt it's aliens."  Billy's head was spinning.  Sure, he thought Rachel was hot, and a bit crazy after she almost killed him at his locker earlier that morning.  He'd planned on leaving well enough alone, especially now that he knew she was a lesbian, but he certainly didn't think she was a Supergirl powered alien.  Was she?  Did those things even happen?  "There's just a lot we don't know, okay?  There's too many unknowns to just go assuming things."

"Precisely," Darcy retorted.  "Look, we need to know more.  I mean, not right now of course considering the efficiency of which they are removing evidence I say we not add to their work load, but, what I'm saying is that there are known knowns and that there are known unknowns. But there are also unknown unknowns; things we don't know that we don't know."

Billy looked at her like she was mad, and given the gleeful, excited twinkle in her eye, he was pretty sure she was quickly getting there.  She was way to happy about an alien invasion force.  "That," he paused, trying to wrap his head around that.  "Makes little to kinda no sense.  Almost."

"Exactly my point!"  Billy's confused expression just led her forward on her profound plan. "Look, we have the unique position of knowing them, we're close to them, in their inner circle."

"Rachel wants me dead."

"Okay, so more me than you... but you can still help."  Darcy's eyes narrowed as she peered up from under the dasj and looked at Fisher petting the large wolf pup.  "What are you hiding, Fisher Capra...?"

 

[Salem, The Drip, around 7...ish]

The Drip was hoppin.  Like most Friday nights the place was packed to the gills with anyone between the age of thirteen to eighteen and higher than that if you went upstairs to The Loft.  It was not hard to find the man they were looking for.  He was sitting in the corner booth, which seemed cliche save for that his back was to the wall, his exit routes blocked by the half circle slide in bench seat.  Once the Scions sat down they would be on either side of him, he'd have no escape.

The five Scions slowly approached the table and he smiled as the came into view.  He was handsome, of that there was no doubt.  It seemed the gods didn't have ugly babies, and they were almost damn sure he was a Scion.  He was older, somewhere in his late twenties, early thirties, and indeed looked like a younger Hugh Jackman, minus the Wolverine muttonchops.  Clean shaven with a smile that could woo the spots off a leopard, he gestured to either side of him.

"Glad you came," he said kindly.  "Please, have a seat, let's talk."  He looked them over and narrowed his eyes.  "You must be Austin," he pointed at each in succession.  "Grace, Nadya, and... you my dear, you I do not know.  An unknown.  I like unknowns in my plans, they shake up the pot so to speak."  He took a drink of his large mug of Joe.  "I already ordered, hope you don't mind.  Don't see that pretty nerd anywhere... think her and Fisher have finally figured out what to do with Tab A and Slot B?  No, I s'pose not.  Ah, I'm Marius, by the way.  Sit."

Spoiler

I know in situations like this everyone has questions for the bad guy.  Please understand that he can only answer one person at a time so don't shot gun questions at him from four different directions.  Play it calm, I'll work on being as vague as possible, don't worry. :)

 

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Just because he was so smug and assured, Nadya took her time sitting down, taking a spot on the end of the booth next to the aisle. Things were... off, besides this being an obvious trap. Sure he probably wanted the meeting to size them up, which was exactly the reason they had accepted, but why wouldn't he had taken a seat next to the aisle? And nobody liked unknowns when they were making plans, whatever he said. The best you could do was roll with them - didn't mean you liked them.

And while he seemed to know their names and faces, or at least descriptions, he didn't know them personally, or Laurie, except for a more personal detail about Fisher and Darcy. Hacked their phones, in their lives some other way, or something else? Nadya wished she had stayed back, putting on a disguise and listened in on the meeting from another table, seen if Marius blabbed that he knew she hadn't gone with Rae-Rae and Fisher.

"For a pair of nerds, Fisher and Darcy sure can be dumb sometimes," Nadya agreed breezily. She arched an amused brow, smirking. "Marius. That really what it says on your driver's license? You look more like, I dunno, a Nigel Eddington or something." Everyone knew in movies, if there was a Brit among non-Brits, the Brit was the bad guy. "Since we're being all civil and whatever, think you can give us back a certain apocalypse-making Book? Y'know, as a sign of good faith."

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Marius smiled and tilted head in Nadya's direction.  He waved his finger, "See, now that is a reasonable request.  A tad optimistic, but reasonable.  I unfortunately have to say no.  You see, I don't have it anymore, and before you ask me where it is and what I did with it, please understand that if I tell you, it'll ruin the surprise, and I do love surprises."

He drank his coffee a moment.  "We may be civil, but we are on opposite sides of the fence.  Just because we haven't tried to kill one another yet, doesn't mean I'm still not actively trying to mess up your lives... well, less so that your 'real' parent ever could.  Which brings me to my next point: we both have a job to do, and my job seems to be conflicting with yours.  This doesn't have to make us enemies.  You see, my goal is to wreck this city, sow the seeds of chaos and anarchy, and move on to the next one.  You are making that difficult."

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"Well, you can't blame a girl trying, right?" Nadya replied to Marius informing them of the Book's providence. "Heroes might have an easier time of it if they just asked, sometimes, instead of going straight to the Octagon."

Nadya waited as their orders arrived and practically inhaled half of her smoked meat sandwich, an impressive display for a sleek girl under average height, for anyone who didn't know her, before continuing. "Sorry we're making it hard for you to wreck this city with Rock and Roll and Zombies, but all our stuff is here. How 'bout just leaving and hitting another one instead, like, I dunno... Atlanta? Sink it like Atlantis or something. Real Housewives of Atlanta has been going downhill since Zolciak left, though NeNe still brings it-"

Her companions all turned to look at her as she started on a (totally relevant) tangent and Nadya rolled her expressive, silvery-grey eyes in exasperation. "What? Oh! Yeah, yeah, right, destroying cities bad." She turned back to Marius, leaning over the table slightly. "Your goal - chaos, anarchy, disaster, all that junk - is it your goal, or someone or..." Nadya lowered her voice into dramatic, ominous tones, "... something else's endgame? What I'm getting it is, are you the Mastermind or just a Minion? Cuz, if you're the Mastermind, you can always come up with a different goal, one that we won't have an issue with. Maybe come up with a new Reality Show? Very lucrative, and Hel's bells, some people think they're leading to humanity's downfall anyway."

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Marius chuckled.  "You're cute, Nadya, don't ever change.  I admire your..." He waved his hand, searching for the right word.  "Whatever that is you have.  Who I work for, myself or others, is irrelevant.  The bottom line is that in the end, I'm not calling upon Armageddon, but I do bring the Pain Train.  People will get hurt, people will die, insurance companies will be ruined and landlords will get sued, it will be a nightmare.  This is what passes as fun for me.  I'm evil, it's my thing."

He looked at the students/Scions and smiled kindly.  It was a strange notion to be sitting here, dining with your enemy, but it didn't seem to phase him in the slightest.  He carried about him a hapless cool that just made him seem relaxed and in total control of the situation.  "I pity you.  Did you know that?  I pity you because you think that all these toys and powers are free.  They aren't.  With them comes an eternity of bondage, and not the sort you can put on your debit card and hope the wife never sees it.  Did you think it was a free ride?  It's not.  You are slaves to your patrons, and they don't care one iota about you or your lives down on this World.  You are pets.  Manageable assets that they will use and exploit until there is nothing left."  There was no contempt in his voice, which was the scary part.  He wasn't mad, or didn't seem mad, at anyone or anything.  It's like he was simply stating facts.

"You will, like the hundreds of thousands before you, will die fighting their war.  That's not even the worse part, after your dead they will use your soul as a soldier to fight their war in heaven.  There will be no more toys, no more visits, you will be a forgotten failure on the front line against a divine host you have no hopes of defeating.  As for here?  Your families will be hunted, your friends, mortal or otherwise will be hunted.  Everything you love about this life of yours has been destroyed, you're just too drunk on the new found power of it all to realize that yet."  He paused, to let that sink in.  "I'm not a complete bastard.  Sure, I'm a high functioning sociopath but then again I have magical powers and see giants... so let's judge on a curve, shall we?  I'm here to offer you a chance.  One chance to walk away.  I will ensure your families are kept safe from my antics, and as an added bonus, I can offer you something your parents could not."

He looked at all of them, he saw teenagers whose lives had been torn asunder by the sudden appearance of their divine patrons.  Lives turned upside down, moving away from homes they knew their whole lives, pulled into something thy never asked to be a part of.  "I can offer you normalcy.  A cure for the divine condition.  Fate will bother you no more, your friends and families will be safe, no longer hunted.  I can give you your old lives back."  He returned a look to Nadya.  "He's all you have, little gypsy princess.  How long do you think your father will last when he's caught up in the middle of this war?"  He looked to Grace.  "Do you think the titanspawn forces will stop at just your faster family?  No, all those other children will die as well."

His gaze settled on Austin.  "A mom and a dad, even a little sister.  You, of all of these kids seem to have it all.  When the war comes to call on your doorstep, do you think you'll be string enough to save them all?"  His gaze was like a ice pick piercing into Austin's worst fears.  "Lie to me and tell me yes, boy.  All of you, come on, show me that bravado your little lesbian friend is always tossing around.  Lie to me and tell me that you are strong enough to save everyone, everywhere, all the time."

"Or, accept my offer.  If want to be rid of it, fine I'll tell you how.  If not, your call, but stay out of my way."

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Grace listened silently throughout the pitch, her eyes lazily tracing the little movements of Every-British-Bad-Guy-Ever's head and hands. There was a lot you could learn about a person from how the communicated - how they gestured and who they looked at when they weren't making pointed veiled threats. Threatening the family, that's a Bad Guy 101 and he does seem to love the classics. Also the 'oh poor things, but WAIT, I can help'. All he needs right now is a cat to pet and a catch phrase you can't get out of your head like bad commercial jingles. 

She'd pulled a chair up to the open end of the table and now sh wrapped her knuckles on the table and nodded to Marius. "Okay. So that's done." She stood up, looking around at her Band and ending on Marius. "Y'know what I told my sperm donor when he showed up? Shove off and fuck yourself another try at a good little soldier. I don't do this shit for Them. Fuck 'em, they suck. But everyone else? They don't deserve your shit either. So I'm gonna tell you the same thing. Fuck off." She almost said more, a whole torrent of words building behind her lips. What's the point? He doesn't need my reasons or to know my priorities. 

She took another look at the other Scions, then shrugged. "Do what you got to, guys. Who knows if he actually can get you out, but if that's what you want, go for it. I sure as hell ain't gone give you orders about your life. That's your call." She nodded a last time, then turned to make her way out of the Drip. She needed a smoke or something. This would be easier if I actually smoked.

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"No, none of us are foolish enough to believe Everyone can be saved.    I do have it all, moreso than most of my comrades. They're the reason that I fight.   I'm fine with fighting so they can live happy normal lives.  I don't care about the between Titans and Gods, That's between them.  What i care about is down here.   You come after us, you come after the people we hold dear, our homes, our families, Don't be surprised when we fight back with everything we have.   I damn sure will.  Alone, we may not have the power to deal with everything, but we aren't alone.  Together, we'll win."  It was his turn to stand up and depart the Table, heading outside to meet with Grace.

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"Ah-" Laurie began, but was abruptly cut off by Grace's sudden departure.  She frowned, lips pursed to one side as Austin's tirade picked up where the rebellious young Latina girl had left off, only to see him promptly shove off as well.  The blonde held up a finger as if to speak, then, eyes wide in disbelief, sighed and dropped her hand limply back to the black case at her side.  She could scarcely believe what she was seeing.  Fine.  So he might have obliquely, indirectly threatened their families.  She got where their anger might come from, especially since he was being so annoyingly smug about the whole thing, but walking out?  You just didn't do that in her experience.  Even if you absolutely loathed someone, you still listened to what they had to say; it was just good manners.  If she'd had a dollar for every inane conversation she'd sat through with her mother's friends, she could afford to send Nadya to Vegas during the World Series of Poker.  Ugh.  Those Chanel-scented harridans gossiped and bickered as viciously as harpies...  Which, all things considered, might make sense now that she knew that harpies actually existed. 

She supposed, given their less fortunate backgrounds, her Band-mates couldn't be expected to know how to behave in polite society, but it still reflected poorly on the group as a whole.  Quietly, she was impressed that Nadya had actually engaged Marius in conversation in an effort to get more information.  Lacing the fingers of both hands around her mug, the fragrant aroma of Turkish apple tea wafting up to greet her, Laurie considered her options.  As she compared the affable, eloquent man to their story about the museum and the letter he'd written, she got the rather uncomfortable impression that he was more dangerous than she'd previously assumed. 

"Marius, was it?" she inquired with a polite smile, taking a cue from his genial tone.  "I'm at a bit of a disadvantage, since the rest of you seem to know each other already."  Her blue eyes were earnest as she regarded the older man, even if her expression was somewhat abashed.  "I meant to introduce myself earlier, but, well, you know how we teenagers are.  It's all hormones, reality shows, and slamming doors."  She took a sip of her tea, carefully replacing the cup on the table before continuing.  "I'm Laurel, and I apologize for the way they left.  It was incredibly rude, and, bad blood or not, uncalled for.  Then again, you didn't try to kill anyone I know with an army of undead minions, so my judgment may be slightly skewed on that point."  She shrugged, still smiling pleasantly.  "That being said, you seem to know quite a bit about our, hmm... 'unique' family situation.  How long have you been dealing with this sort of thing?"

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If Marius was offended by the twos departure, he didn't show it.  He did seem to smirk smugly as they left, like he knew something they didn't and they were now going to miss the punchline.  "Five decades, young Laurel, and you needn't apologize.  After all, they're still mad at me over that whole zombie invasion thing, I'm sure."  He twirled his hand dismissively.  "Not that it was my fault.  I didn't do anything, honestly.  I provided the means for a man to get back what he'd lost, is all.  In so doing he was willing to call upon catastrophe in order to get what he thought the universe owed him: recompense."

His smirk widened.  "You see, I do very little.  I don't have to.  There is nothing I can do to these mortals that is more terrible than what they're willing to do to themselves.  He knew the risks, and took them.  He killed himself, harmed his daughter... and as always, I get blamed for it when all it would have taken was a simple 'no'.  I'm innocent in all of it, honestly.  I was only there because I had a bowl of popcorn and nothing to watch.  House of Cards was done for the season, so Netflix was out."

"That's what I do."  He looked at the remaining ladies.  "I keep the cosmic balance in line.  Salem's been too quiet for the last... oh, too long.  It's just a shame that the Pain Train doesn't have brakes, you seem like good kids.  I bit angry and socially awkward, but by and large, good kids."

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"You did not just bad mouth Reality Shows!" Nadya scowled in mock outrage at Laurel after Grace and Austin made their declarations and watched them go. She rolled her eyes dramatically as Marius explained his motives, or at least the way he worked, her tone full of snark. "Right, and guns don't kill people."

"Spare me the moral anecdote," he said, rolling his eyes. "I merely give people opportunities.  Choice always remains theirs.  While it makes me no less of a bastard, the World still only has itself to blame."

That sounded way too much like how most scams worked for Nadya's piece of mind. Time to deflect.

"Evil is your 'thang', you said?" Nadya drawled, making air quotes and quirking a skeptical brow. "You ain't wearing 'nuff black and guyliner to sound that gothy, not to mention way too old, but I get it." Her voice rose into a sing-song. "Paraphrasing the great poet Tay-tay, 'Baddies gonna bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.' Marius, you gotta shake it off, shake it off."

Nadya then scooted around the booth bench to sit next to Marius. She leaned to look past him to give Laurie a regretful glance. "Sorry Princess, I don't know you as well as the others, but I hope you don't think too badly 'bout me after this." Nadya returned her intent gaze back on Marius, her voice low and conspiratorial. "I've got a proposition for you, Marius. You're right. Dad's old, like forty, and crippled, and we know what it's like to be hunted. He doesn't need that and doesn't deserve it."

She leaned back against the battered leather of the booth, folding her arms and stared at Marius through dark lashes. "But here's the thing. Normal is death, or even worse, boring. I like the super powers and I love my father, and I don't want to lose either. So... how do I join the Darkside, and do they have cookies? After all, a Mastermind needs lackeys. I can be lackey... ish."

Nadya and Marius both ignored Laurie's gasp and hard look, the dark Greek gripped his cup and took a drink of his coffee. "You don't say?  Honestly, I'd never have guessed."  His sarcasm in his flabbergasted expression was obvious.

"Scouts honour!" Nadya held up a three-fingered salute.

"I highly doubt you were ever a girl scout, Nadya."

"But I have the outfit," she countered readily with a broad grin. "Seriously, there doesn't seem to be much difference to me between the two, from what I can see. The other band are all douche-nozzles, way worse than you even, and no one seems to care. Gods, one of them has turned the whole school against me, and all I get from the proffs is flack. So fuck'em and I know crime does pay. Besides, Cosmic Balance? I totally dig that - maybe not in the exact same way as you, but... maybe in the same ballpark. And like you said, nothing's free. I want something and seems like you can get it for me, so I's gotta pay."

She smirked, eyes glittering. "But I got a couple of caveats first, of course. One - Morally suspect or not, I don't go face to face to my Band, or former Band, I guess. I'm sure you can find something else for me to do, if it comes up. Two - My Dad is off-limits, of course. And Three - as you said, you're evil, so you can hardly expect I'll take your word that you'll uphold your end of the bargain. So... I'll need something as collateral as proof of your intentions. Something that'll annoy you. I'll sign on as a Minion, but not a yes-woman and I still owe you for the Wax Museum." Marius opened his mouth to protest his innocence and Nadya shooed them down with a wave hand. "Yeah, yeah, you just handed him loaded gun, but didn't pull the trigger yourself."

"And what would the collateral be, pray tell?"

"Why, Jeff Myers' loaded gun of course. The Nekyia. Who has it and where is he? Agree to my conditions and once I have the Book in hand, why, you have yourself a genuine minion. Deal?"

Spoiler

Nadya is mostly lying her ass off and using God's Honest.

 

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